Free NHL Picks: Avalanche at Blackhawks Odds
by George Monroy - 12/26/2013
The Western Conference has seen a revolving door at the top of the standings. Everyday it seems like there is a new team on a hot streak and surging to the top of the heap. At this moment the Anaheim Ducks have won nine in a row and lead the conference by a point, but the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings all held the top spot in the West at one point or another this year. The only constant has been Chicago Blackhawks. The defending champions have quietly maintained their position near the top of the West and retake the conference lead whenever those teams on hot streaks cool down.
The Colorado Avalanche were one of those streaking teams earlier in the year, and at one point they even won 14 of 16 games. Since then, particularly in the month of December, the team has had inconsistent results at best, and it now sits in the seventh spot of the playoff standings it once ruled as recently as a month ago. Maybe the rest of the league has figured out the aggressive and unorthodox style of play that rookie head coach Patrick Roy has implemented this season, or maybe Colorado was simply not as good as many people though it was. Either way, the team will have a chance to find out on Friday night when it faces the Chicago Blackhawks. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup and offer some predictions and analysis.
Avalanche at Blackhawks Betting Story Lines
Chicago’s month of December hasn’t been great as the team slowed down like many other squads in the league. The Blackhawks are 6-5 with three more games to left to play this year and may simply be looking to get away from the holidays with a .500 record for the month. Despite the team’s sluggish performance over the last few weeks, it still has the second-best record in the Western Conference and only trails the Anaheim Ducks, who have not lost a game in regulation all month.
The Blackhawks are coming off a solid three-goal victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday and may have put on their best defensive performance of the season. Chicago held New Jersey to 12 shots on goal for the entire night and spent very little time protecting its own zone. Patrick Sharp scored twice for Chicago as the team won 38 faceoffs and had four power play opportunities throughout the game. The Blackhawks will close out the year with a brutal Western Conference stretch against Colorado, the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings.
Colorado lost four of its last six matchups before the holiday break and seven of its last 11 games during December. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov allowed six goals during his last two games, including a terrible performance against the San Jose Sharks where he gave up four goals on a ridiculous 45 shots. However, all the blame shouldn’t fall on Varlamov as the team has allowed a whopping 78 shots over its last two games. Colorado’s major problem during its month-long slump has been its energy and commitment on defense. The team is allowing its opponents to take a large amount of shots and is setting up its goaltenders for failure.
Avalanche at Blackhawks NHL Betting Odds and Key Trends
Chicago opened up as a -186 moneyline favorite against the +169 underdog Avalanche at BetOnline. The total was set at 5.5 goals, and the “over” is favored at -121. Colorado is 4-0 when its opponent scored five goals or more during the previous game and 7-3 against teams with a home winning record of .600 or better. The team has struggled over its last five road games and is only 1-4. It has a 1-5 record over its last five matchups against teams with winning records.
Chicago is 6-2 over its last eight Friday games and 5-2 over its last seven games when playing on thee days or more worth of rest. The Blackhawks have gone “under” in all four of its last Friday games, and their under is 4-1 during the last five matchups against the Western Conference. Head-to-head, the home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings, while Colorado is 5-2 over the last seven overall games.
Free NHL Picks: Avalanche at Blackhawks Picks
Chicago was so dominant during its last performance against the Devils on Monday that it’s hard not to expect that type of play to continue. The team will close out the season against three of the Western Conferences’ top teams and may be looking to make a statement heading into January. Colorado has struggled leading up to Friday night’s game, but it has already built a reputation as a very good team, and Chicago will not want to drop a home against a potential playoff opponent. Take the Blackhawks on the moneyline.
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